Alice Waters visits the UCSC Farm & Garden

September 28, 2015


Alice Waters, visionary, pioneer and ally to the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Farm Systems (CASFS) toured the organic farm and garden at UC Santa Cruz on September 26, 2015, Her visit to the campus was part of the 50th Anniversary Founders Celebration where Waters was honored with a UCSC Foundation Medal.

Driven by the same mission of producing food that is organically cultivated, sustainably grown, and ecologically nurtured, Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse and CASFS were instrumental in pioneering an alternative food system. As bold experiments, they challenged the norm. Five decades later, they are now changing it.

Here are photos from Waters intimate tour of the farm, where she conversed with educators on teaching sustainability, met with farm managers about introducing the agricultural experience to urban campuses, and chatted with apprentices about how to inspire the next generation.

Waters visit provided a moment of reflection on how the organic movement revolutionized food systems over the last half century. In 1971, the same year that UCSC established its 30-acre organic farm, Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA.

Both Chez Panisse and CASFS were born from the same era of civil rights, free speech and environmental activism. Waters and CASFS influenced a new generation of foodies and farmers committed to the idea that healthy and local food make for a healthy environment and community.

Apprenticeship Coordinator Diane Nichols (middle) shows Alice Waters the fields.

But CASFS and Chez Panisse inspired each other. Many CASFS alums went on to work in the Chez Panisse kitchen and also with their suppliers, including Green Gulch Farm. 1998 apprentice Amanda Rieux was one of the early garden teachers at the Edible Schoolyard, a project the Chez Panisse Foundation established to actively involve elementary students into the farming and food production cycle.

Additionally, in the early 2000s, the Chez Panisse Foundation sponsored a series of cooking classes so farm apprentices could learn how to cook the food they grow. In 2004, they also funded the outdoor kitchen at Life Lab, the nonprofit garden-based learning program located on the UCSC farm.

Alice Waters visits one of the apprentice's cabins. In 2009, Chez Panisse hosted a 10% dinner for the Apprenticeship/Grow a Farmer campaign that raised almost $3,000 to build the on-farm tent cabins that house the apprentices.

Alice Waters met with apprentices Chelsea Askew (middle) and Edgar Flores (right)

Alice Waters talks with apprentices and Stacy Philpott, Interim Director at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and Ruth and Alfred Heller Chair in Agroecology

Alice Waters with Edgar Flores, Stacy Philpott, and Claudia Webster (right)

Waters was motivated by French cuisine. Similarly, the UCSC garden founder Alan Chadwick was inspired by the French intensive gardening method of raised beds and close spacing of plants. Waters was also given a tour of the Chadwick Garden on her visit.
Waters also met Tim Galarneau, Community-Engaged Education Coordinator
Philpott leads Waters to see the field where UCSC researchers Joji Muramato and Carol Shennan are testing organic alternatives to grow strawberries.

Waters with Philpott (left), Webster, and her assistant, Hannah Love (right) in the Life Lab garden, located on the UCSC Farm

Waters in Life Lab's teaching garden

Alice Waters outside the CSA shed on the UCSC Farm

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